Zeman: The Czechs are not xenophobic

Zeman: The Czechs are not xenophobic
7. září 2015 • 09:58
Migration, the cashstrapped Endangered Children’s Fund (FOD), a trip to China, and the anniversary of the August 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia – such were the subjects on the agenda of President Miloš Zeman’s recent press conference.

Only a single hint of introspection was on display during the 31 August event held at Prague Castle. This came as Zeman doubted his own abilities as a fortune teller, given that he publicly predicted that indebted Greece would be expelled from the eurozone. Which is why he had pressed Czech politicians to speed up adoption of the euro. “But ultimately emotions won out in the solving of the Greek crisis,” Zeman stated. Now, Zeman believes Greece will be permitted to remain in the club – but added that the situation could change.

As for the current migrant crisis, the president devoted considerable time to this issue, describing it as a threat to Europe. To those Czechs, primarily in the scientific community, who signed a declaration against xenophobia, Zeman suggested that each take a migrant into their own home. The president also said that such petitions lead to a dangerous pigeon-holing of sections of society.

According to Zeman, Czech society is not xenophobic. As evidence of this, he cited the fact that the country lacks farright political parties of the National Front variety led by France’s Marine Le Pen. The last such Czech party was Miroslav Sládek’s epublicans – and they fizzled out during the late 1990s.

The president also emphasised that the aim of his China trip would be to honour the Chinese victims of the Second World War and to consolidate rapidly expanding Czech-Chinese economic ties. To this end, Zeman praised the usefulness of a direct air route between Prague and Beijing.

The president also took time to reflect on the anniversary of the August 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led Warsaw Pact forces as well as the signing by top Czech politicians the same year of the Moscow Protocols (which rejected the liberal ideas of the Prague Spring). Zeman primarily condemned ousted Party secretary Alexandr Dubček for signing, while saluting communist politician František Kriegl, who refused. Zeman again emphasised that he will posthumously decorate Kriegl for his brave act on the occasion of Czech independence day on 28 October.

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